Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Learning and Technology

Department

Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

Randy Boone, Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

P.G. Schrader, Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

S. Kathleen Krach

Graduate Faculty Representative

Andrew Hardin

Number of Pages

118

Abstract

For several decades, researchers have explored the existence of the virtual self, or digital embodiment of self found within an avatar. It was surmised that this new component of one’s overall identity not only existed in conjunction with the public and private persona, but was replete with the necessary physical and psychological characteristics that facilitate a broad range of cognitive, cultural, and socio-emotional outcomes found within a virtual environment (e.g., Second Life, World of Warcraft). However, little is known with regard to whether these characteristics do indeed impact behavioral outcomes. For this reason, this study employed an observational assessment method to explore the virtual self as more than a set of characteristics attributed to an avatar, but rather as a relationship between personality (i.e., individual and avatar) and actualized behavior exhibited within a virtual environment. Further, presence measures were introduced to better understand whether feelings of immersion impact this relationship. Results indicated a burgeoning virtual self, linking personality with behavior along the domain of agreeableness. In other words, behavior is not solely the product of the environment but also is influenced by participant predispositions. Findings also suggest that the construct presence may now need to incorporate variables that account for this virtual self. Implications for educators, instructional designers, and psychologists are discussed.

Keywords

Avatar; Avatars (Virtual reality) – Psychological aspects; Identity (Psychology); MMOG; Persona (Psychoanalysis); Presence; Virtual environments; Virtual reality – Psychological aspects; Virtual self

Disciplines

Instructional Media Design | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology

Language

English


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